The plan worked! Our first night in Mérida, we took Mom and Dad to a recital of chamber music, held in a private home in the Centro. The music was wonderful, but more important, the evening impressed on my parents that expats here are happy, and seem fairly sane. At least the 30 or so who had been invited to this recital. We were honored to be invited, and grateful to be allowed to bring along my parents, especially considering the limited seating. Also, they got to see a real, restored Colonial-style home, which happened to have a layout similar to mine: Old house in front, terrace with three arches facing a casita in rear, pool to the left. Uncanny coincidence. I was so nervous about the evening, but apparently I underestimated ol’ Mom ‘n’ Pop.
It was our first try at getting Mom and Dad into a cab, taking a white-knuckle drive down narrow, crumbly streets at night, and then later on finding a cab to get us back. It all went swimmingly, although we had to persuade Mom to stop wearing those long, woolly mid-calf skirts she favors. Slacks would be more practical. She clung to her LL Bean fisherman knit wool cardigan, as well. Dressing Mom for travel in the tropics would come later that week at the shops beneath the Fiesta Americana.
On Monday, we were able to finally show off Casa Nana to the folks. We could have walked there from our hotel, but since my parents (84 and 89) are better at tripping than walking, our entire week was a series of short cab rides. It was exciting and a little surreal to escort Mom and Dad out of the car right in front of our house, the place named for my mother’s mother, whose life of thrift made the Casa possible. What would they think? Not all our designs were the most conventional. Bright yellow-green glass, enclosed rooms alternating with outside spaces, sober colors, etcetera, etcetera. They were pleased with the style, and with the size, but I can tell all that concrete will be an adjustment for a pair more accustomed to wood paneling and soft carpet.
Mom gushed to the designer, Josefina Larraín, at the beauty of the house, and was so excited she and Dad walked all 28 stairs, both the front and rear staircases, to take in everything. We bought some resin chairs for them, too; our first investment in furniture. We joked at how the off-white plastic matched some of the tile. For me, it was just nice to finally grab a seat and enjoy the terrace. A drink would have been nice, too, but you can’t have everything.
We told them we’d be walking back in the evening to see the lighting. “You’ll walk in that dangerous neighborhood at night?” Mom asked, revealing her impression of the streets the taxi had taken us down. We reminded her that Mérida’s streets are safe. If she had seen our street three years ago, she would have been really shocked. Driving around at night, we’d point out any instance of a woman confidently walking alone. We’ve explained to her again and again about Mérida, showed her books and videos, sent her travel stories, but she wasn’t prepare for such a large, boisterous, and cosmopolitan city. She was pleased with what she saw. Dad said little, but I detected a faint smile as he looked at the passing scene from the back of each taxi.
In the week ahead, we would have to start a punch list so the contractor can declare the house “done,” plus meet a prospective tenant, switch to a new property management firm and give them copies of all our paperwork, and get Mom and Dad safely to, through and out of Uxmal, the vast Maya archaeological site more than an hour away. This would be a different kind of visit. We’d have to be on our toes all week.
Oh, and about our decision to stay in a Hyatt because it would be easier and more efficient than a guesthouse. My apologies to all my friends with guesthouses. We had three straight days of hot water running brown because the maintenance department decided to flush out some plumbing. We had the option of leaving the comforts of adjacent rooms in the Club level, or showering in a remote room on the third floor. We chose the latter, but Mr. Hyatt will be hearing about this when I have a moment.
We did our best to pace ourselves. On Saturday, they endured a long trip, and tomorrow would be our trip to Uxmal, a road trip with no rest stops on the way, and friend Joanna was scrambling to find a wheelchair. Uxmal recently installed ramps, but we couldn’t find if they rented chairs. Tomorrow would be the big hump in the trip that we’d have to get past before I could really feel confident about their safety. Then I could limit my anxieties to visions of them falling down stairs, tripping on curbs, getting sick from the food or water, getting run over by a car or bus, and losing their passports, visas, and/or dentures.